The American Dream – Part 1 – Qualitative Analysis

By: Heero Yuy

This post is taken directly from my post on WallStreet Oasis discussing the fading of the American Dream.

Enjoy!

This is a very deep topic of discussion for me as I am a first generation immigrant and a Veteran (US Navy). I will share two view points and see what others think.

  1. The Dream as per my family and myself
  2. Evolution of The Dream as a function of time

1.a) The American Dream as per my parents

Abstract: Stable life so that their children may have a fighting chance to chase the American Dream as per their children.

Background: My mom could have taken more riskier routes, like studying for the USMLE to be become a board certified Physician (She wanted to be OBGYN), but instead she opted to build and grow her career from her PhD. She is pretty successful now working as a Director and was previous a full tenured Professor. My Dad had to pivot as his degree became worthless here in the USA so he opted to get a Masters in IT. He left a very well respected Government position in China to become a housekeeper at a Hotel to make ends meet for the family.

Growing up, I was teased for being slightly below middle-class because that’s what bored children do and understandably their feeble minds couldn’t understand my world peering over from their white picket fences living a silver-spooned lifestyle. Good friends stuck around, bad acquaintances got dropped and ended up as shitheads in real life anyways later in life; go figure, sometimes being spoiled spoils a person.

Even in the sport of academics, having the proper and adequate resources at the necessary times makes or breaks your relative rank or success vs. your competitors. As mentioned before, if we played trading places I would have leveraged the resources found in more fortunate households above and beyond the average child could have ever done with them. Why? I’d be busy working or helping others and not teasing the less fortunate. Idle hand’s are the devil’s workshop and my definition of fun differs from theirs.

Parent’s American Dream: They wanted to get to middle class baseline and provide for their children (me and sibling). Taking unnecessary risks that could hinder or deviate from this goal is unacceptable. 1st Gen Parents value stability above all else.

1.b) My American Dream
Abstract: Work in progress. Dream big, do cool things. Military paid well and allowed me to serve my Country and hone in on my leadership skills. This allows me to take bigger risks to break out of the typical Middle-class life.

Background: If my parents busted their ass to get to this country after surviving Communism and the Cultural Revolution and all I end up Middle-class, which is no further than they got, then shame on me for being a worthless human being. The forefather of my current organization said it best: “I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” Calculated risks and applying leverage through leadership of an organization (Army of people or Fleet of Ships) is the only way to make it to the top.

My American Dream: Mentioned in the conclusion below.

2.a) Change of the American Dream through time
Change through Time: It wasn’t always so. My parents didn’t take risks but they imposed different end-game scenarios on myself and my sibling. As they grew and matured in their American journey, these end-game scenarios relaxed over-time and now have disappeared entirely. They now trust that the decisions we make is the best for us for the time being.

2.b) Motivations for this change
Why this occurs: Goals and visions are discovered through time with experience and self discovery. For instance, my concept of the American dream was first categorized as per job listings starting from Entry-level progressing to Senior positions, then it became a progression of pay from five to six figures (low to high six, etc), and now it has become absurd because I have more experience and knowledge and can leverage them to build teams and companies. I went from being a foot soldier to a leader and in my mind being a leader is where I belong.

Conclusion: I think it is wonderful to have a healthy debate about this topic and exchange ideas. Quite frankly nothing is right or wrong here as this is a game of perception where everyone can be right or wrong.

So long as you are true to yourself and add value to society in doing what you do then you are on the right path to success. For me, that’s the American Dream.

Don’t worry about journalists or historians telling your tales. No one ever had any fun while worrying about who’s looking over their shoulders! Enjoying myself and having fun are the only technical indicators I need for success.

Letting go of the Past – Time goes only one direction

By: Heero Yuy

mad-men

[Readers discretion: Has some dark and negative parts]

I have a habit of checking on people occasionally to find out how they are doing and to see what new things happened in their lives. An old friend of mine, Big V, was last seen in Japan with a beautiful lady settling into an apartment after his retirement from Active Duty service. My mind finished the thought by saying “And they lived happily ever after.” Sometimes it is good to check up on old friends because real life is rarely Hollywood or Disney. My friend Big V had to give up the Hollywood ending as an expat and turning down lucrative job offers to keep to his duties to take care of his family back home in the USA. Real life is filled with sadness and despair that isn’t captured on film after the credits start rolling on the screen.

Real life, as we find out daily, is filled with challenge, grief, and misery. We want to find that sense of happiness if only to see it on the screen while streaming Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Netflix. Why settle for what we have or don’t have in our lives when we can vicariously take our minds to experience distilled human emotions as projected by actors and actresses on the screen? It’s the constant medication for our insatiable miserable lives, right? It creates a sense of Nostalgia as illustrated by this scene from Mad Men. Entertainment is a pharmacy of infinite delusions with prescriptions to cure every single emotional malaise. We also can do this ourselves because we have a collection of past called our memory. We can always escape to the past experiences or emotions to run away from present realities and future worries.

Most of us have a hard time letting go because we have the Disney life of “Happily ever after” to play out in any circumstance or situation that we get into personally or professionally. It is impossible for every permutation of reality to be favorable in a one track simulation called this life (multi-universe and realities). The sooner we can let go or learn to let go the better off we become. The Sedona Method and the ideas within this book by Dale Dwoskin are tremendously beneficial for learning this fine art. Bruce Lee describes this very precisely by saying:

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

No matter if you go back to the past with that person in that exact place, wearing the same outfits, trying to recreate those emotions back then as you want to experience them today, it will never be the same no matter how hard you try. That is a curious thought because chemically and physically (DNA) we don’t experience a drastic change so if the scene is set in the right way we should technically be able to reenact that script from the past. Emotionally and mentally, however, we will never be the same and it’s that gap of the mind and heart with the passage of time that separates us from mere animals. My friend Big V and I discussed this very thing and we came to the conclusion that we have to let the past go to live in the present.

Professionally, it’s easy to lie to ourselves to think that the dream(s) is/are still alive and that we must keep chasing it. We often feel that we are entitled to success with more effort we’ve committed or sacrifices made so therefore the universe owes it to us. This is a fallacy and there are many other factors like luck, networking, and creativity that are key in conquest. Since we live in a one track world not one of infinite paths, it is therefore crucial to let go of the dreams that drag us down instead of elevating us. One of the best things I’ve realized this year is to know and understand myself better, know when to pursue an endeavor 100% and when to simply let it go. Letting go of losing positions is fundamental in investing as well so you don’t lose your entire cash position/liquidity so that you can invest in something with growth potential. Let go of the dreams, people, possessions, habits, lifestyles, perceptions, and other things that prevents true growth opportunities from blossoming.

Let it go and feel that weight come off of your shoulders.

George Clooney from Up in the Air.